Neo-Nazi skinheads interrupted a meeting sponsored by southern Utah homosexuals to promote community understanding, shouting insults before leaving under the watchful eyes of police.
About 20 members of the so-called Army of Israel, a group which has stated its goal as turning Zion National Park into a white supremacist homeland, showed up about midway through the meeting in the Cedar City Council chambers Saturday night.Four Cedar City police officers first checked the skinheads for weapons, and then allowed them to be seated, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
One skinhead called out, "I'll tell you, you better stay away from our kids, faggot."
A second said, "We're going to get these homosexuals out of town."
Officer Cliff Shotwell warned the skinheads that further interruptions would lead to arrests for disorderly conduct.
The skinheads left the chamber, but they did not return to their enclave in Hurricane, 55 miles to the south, until they had passed out anti-gay literature.
Police officers assured the audience they would stay until everyone had left the parking area safely.
The meeting included a a panel discussion featuring David Nelson, spokesman for Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats; Kathy Worthington, editor of Womyn's Community News; the Rev. Ronald V. Belnap, vicar of St. Jude's Episcopal Church, Cedar City; Janet Brown, clinical social worker for Southwest Utah Mental Health; Steve Suseoff, a counselor for a local alcohol- and drug-treatment center; and Heather Bernau, president of a Southern Utah University gay and lesbian club.Comment on this story
Before Saturday's meeting, Cedar City police received reports that the Army of Israel planned to disrupt the gathering. A squad of officers was posted outside council chambers.
Skinhead spokesman David Dalby said the Army of Israel's "St. George Unit" has nearly 200 members.
"Our numbers are growing daily," Dalby said, adding, "We can't tolerate this kind of thing. We're a Christian community."
But police doubt there are 200 members in the St. George area. When the Army of Israel moved from Nevada to Hurricane in 1992, there were 10 to 20 members.
The most well-known of the group is Johnny Bangerter, second cousin of former Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter.